Spanish Motor Insurers Bureau

Home » Why there are no vowels in the Spanish number plates?

The Spanish number plate system dates to 1900, although the concept and layout has undergone several transformations since then.

The latest format started September 2020.

1900 – 1971

1971 – 2000

2000 onwards

The first registration system adopted in Spain, active until 1971, consisted of one, two or three letters representing the province and up to six numbers without zeros. It is very rare to see such number plate format but still possible.

In October 1971 the alphanumeric provincial format came into force, with one or two letters representing the province, four digits, and one or two letters at the end, from A to ZZ.

Since year 2000, the Spanish number plate is formed by the European symbol on the left-hand side, in a tall band, then four numbers and three letters. This allows a total of 80 million combination, so the system is safe to continue until 2040.

The numeric sequence started at 0000 and ends at 9999. Interestingly, the letters begin at BBB and will end at ZZZ without containing any vowels, nor will the combination include the letters Ñ or Q.

The reason why vowels are not included is because that avoids the creation of words for instance BOT, COW, CAT, FBI, etc. Additionally, letters Q and Ñ are omitted as the number plate system forms part of a European Standard and those letters could be confused for others.